Main event of the day for me is the long-awaited meeting with the police about our local police stations. There has been a lot of concern about the future of police stations in the borough (and indeed across London). And we know that our precious stations like Muswell Hill and St Ann’s are in the firing line. The police make no apology for wanting buildings that work and will deliver effective policing. Well – we all want that too – but if that means closing some stations – then there had better be something better on the table to persuade us that this really is an “improvement”.
So – the public need to be consulted properly on any proposals and fully informed about what alternatives there are. As I understand it at the moment – there will be a patrol centre and a custody centre at Wood Green, there will be an office and management block somewhere and – if we can find suitable premises to house up to three Safer Neighbourhood Teams in Muswell Hill – then those teams, along with a front counter open to the public, will be based in the centre of Muswell Hill. I gather it is difficult to find premises that are suitable – so a lot is still up in the air but it’s possible we’d end up with something better than the current situation.
My nervousness, or remaining nervousness, is not really about changing location (as in this case it’d mean moving the police building in Muswell Hill to a more central location). But firstly – it must be consulted on with local people. And secondly – if local people are amenable to a sensible program of estate renewal and agree that if suitable alternative is found in Muswell Hill – then they will need cast-iron guarantees about its future and longevity etc. Once bricks and mortar of our local police station are gone – it’s much, much harder to get them back. So – the sooner the consultation and debate with local people begins, the better.